Kullu, April 12
A double-lane concrete bridge will be constructed to replace the Bhuntar bailey bridge, which has been a cause of inconvenience to tourists, farmers and common people for the past 26 years.
According to information, the Centre has approved the detailed project report (DPR) of the proposed concrete bridge sent by the State Highways Department. Sources say that tenders for the bridge will be floated soon.
Naveen Mishra, project director of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), says that an alternative double-lane bridge being built near Bajaura will be ready for vehicular movement by the end of this month. He adds that traffic going towards Manikaran and Manali will be diverted through the Bajaura bridge, which is further linked to the Kullu bypass.
He says that the Bhuntar bailey bridge has been transferred to the state Public Works Department (PWD) and the NHAI will not construct the concrete bridge. At present, the one-way bailey bridge witnesses traffic jams everyday, resulting in long queues of vehicles on its both sides and creating problems for tourists, farmers and residents. The situation worsens during the tourist and fruits and vegetables seasons. At the same time, the bridge requires frequent repairs and is closed for vehicles. The bridge was closed for heavy vehicles on March 11 to carry out major repairs, compounding traffic congestion in Bhuntar and Kullu towns.
KK Sharma, Superintending Engineer, PWD, Kullu, says that there is also a small pedestrian bridge of the PWD at Bhuntar and permission will be given for two-wheelers to ply through it as soon as the construction work of the new bridge commences. He adds that traffic will be diverted through the alternative Bajaura bridge. The Central Government will provide funds for the construction of the Bhuntar concrete bridge.
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Ashutosh Garg says that as soon as traffic movement starts on the Bajaura-Bhuntar bypass double-lane bridge, the work on the double-lane Bhuntar concrete bridge will also be started. He adds that frequent meetings are being held with officials regarding it.
An approach road to the existing concrete bridge at Bhuntar had washed away in the 1995 floods and a bailey bridge was constructed as a stop-gap arrangement. This bailey bridge links the Kullu-Manali National Highway with the Bhuntar-Manikaran road and is the only connection to the Kullu bypass.